Bay is clear about wanting to bounce back

New York Mets player Jason Bay talking to New York Mets player Jason Bay talking to reporters at Digital Domain stadium during spring training. (Feb. 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Jason Bay spent a few days with his family at Disney World before arriving this weekend at Digital Domain Park. Now, seven months removed from the concussion that ended his 2010 season, any dizziness can be attributed to spinning teacups or Space Mountain, because Bay is looking forward to the upcoming season with a clear head.

"It should be a non-issue," Bay said of last season's injury.

Even before crashing into the Dodger Stadium wall on July 23, Bay struggled in his first season with the Mets, who had signed him to a four-year, $66-million contract. He was brought on board to help shrink cavernous Citi Field but instead experienced a serious power drain, hitting only six homers in 95 games.

That was a stunning decline for Bay after crushing 38 home runs for the Red Sox in 2009, when he also had 119 RBIs with a .921 OPS. The concussion robbed Bay of a shot at redemption during the second half and postponed it until Opening Day this year.

"I don't have anything to prove per se," Bay said. "I'm not out there to try to prove anything. More than anything, I just want to get back to the player I know that I am. I kind of lost that a little bit last year. I'm not out there to prove anybody right or wrong, but more for myself. Just go out there and be consistent and be the guy that I'm supposed to be."

After what Bay went through last season, it might help knowing that the worst is most likely behind him. Looking back, he now can say he tried to alter his swing in the midst of his power outage, and starting fresh is always the best remedy.

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"I don't want to say you press, but I think you can't make it up all at once," Bay said. "It's frustrating, but that's the reality of the game. It was kind of a blink of an eye and all of a sudden it was July. I was kind of like, 'Wow, I haven't really done much.' I kind of got buried in it. I had some good days and some bad days, but for whatever reason, I just wasn't driving the ball out of the ballpark."

The Mets will need that to change this year, and Bay - like many of his teammates - believes this club has the opportunity to surprise the skeptics who don't see it as a contender.

"I think that bodes well for us," Bay said. "I think that the spotlight is off a little bit. We have a chance to sneak up on some people. Are we going to win 120 games? I don't know. But I think we're going to be a lot better than people think."

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